Pairings | Spice
Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?
I spent an interesting evening this week at one of London’s leading Indian restaurants Benares. It was organised jointly by a wine events company called The Wine Nose and SOPEXA, the promotional arm of the French food and wine industry.
Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.
Author and food blogger Signe Johansen reports on a visit to spice blender Rolf Gast.
It’s less common to come across Indian-spiced seafood dishes than it is fish and vegetable-based ones so what sort of wine works? Yesterday I had a chance to find out
As you’d expect many of the usual suspects featured in my pairings this weekend (chocolate, anyone*?) but the match I was most impressed by was nothing to do with Easter
A fair bit gets written - including by yours truly - about pairing wine with turkey but what type of drinks go best with the Christmas ham?
If you're thinking of going in for our Le Creuset competition this month you may have been tempted by the rather gorgeous-looking cast iron square grill.
Cauliflower and eggs are two of my favourite things, here ingeniously combined by Dan Doherty of the Duck & Waffle in his brilliant book Toast, Hash, Roast, Mash.
Most pairings focus on alcoholic drinks but it’s equally intriguing to see how a similar synergy can be achieved with an alcohol-free one.
I came across this pairing at Chris and Jeff Galvin’s newly opened Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields in the City where they have a vertical of vintages, some of which are available by the glass. As I observed in my review on decanter.com it’s not a cheap option but if you’ve never tasted an old vintage of Hermitage la Chapelle here’s a chance to do so.
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
One of the most interesting cookbooks to come out this spring is James Whetlor's Goat - a book of recipes for using goat meat.
Last week I went to a wine dinner hosted by the Sicilian wine producer Donnafugata at Luca in London. They’re best known for their fabulous passito di Pantelleria dessert wine, Ben Ryé, but in fact it was the cleverly partnered dry wines that stole the show.
Yesterday we had the family round for lunch and served a 2002 Douro red from Portugal with the main course of spice-crusted roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, roast potatoes (my youngest son managed to put away 15 but remains, annoyingly, as skinny as a rake) and in-season purple sprouting broccoli.
The more I taste authentic Indian food the less I think it causes problems for wine. A group of us cooked up a whole load of recipes on Saturday night including this savoury cake called handvo from Anjum Anand’s I love India.
We liked Larcen, the restaurant that was the inspiration for two of the Clever Food Ideas last week, so much that we managed to fit in another visit before we left France. I had the plat du jour (dish of the day) - a brilliant combination of chicken in a rich peanut sauce and a 2007 Faugères rosé from H Bouchard called Abbaye Sylva Plana.
Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
If I told you we’d kicked off a tasting menu with a dish of barely seared, pepper-crusted tuna, with a punchy sesame and ginger dressing paired with a chilled cherry beer you’d probably think we’d dined at one of London’s cutting edge Asian restaurants rather than one of its most venerable institutions, the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. But its chef-patron Michel Roux Jr is quite prepared to challenge his well-heeled Mayfair clientele. In fact I suspect that if he felt he could get away with it his whole menu would be packed with similarly bold combinations.
You may think tasting wine sounds arduous but a major wine and food tasting, I assure you, is a much greater assault on the system as I was reminded the other day when Victoria Moore of The Guardian and I ran 14 Pinot Gris through their paces with foods that ranged from smoked eel to chicken tikka masala. Neither of us was able to eat much for several days.
Laksa is one of those dishes you hesitate to pair with wine being both a soup and really spicy but the pairing I came across at the Pegasus Bay wine dinner at The Providores the other night was spot on.
I certainly feel duck’s status as one of the best ingredients to pair with wine has been enhanced by this week’s match of the week
I’ve been thinking a fair bit about red wine and Indian food lately - of which more in due course - but wanted to flag up one pairing from my trip to India last week which definitely worked.